The sea of "We Believe" T-shirts rises like a golden tsunami at Oracle Arena as Baron Davis throws down a ferocious dunk over Andrei Kirilenko in the final minutes of the Warriors’ playoff win against the Utah Jazz.
A triumphant Davis lifts his jersey and gives a chest-bearing roar that screams, "I am the man."
Unfortunately, what drives Baron to such occasional great heights on the court may very well have driven him out of town. After agreeing to a five-year, $65 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, Baron was in San Francisco on Tuesday for the premiere of the documentary he produced on gang life in Los Angeles, "Made in America," saying, "Going home helps me make an impact on young kids."
In the next breath, Baron says he wanted to be here for a long time and he still considers the Bay Area his home. This is Baron. Trying to be all things to all people.
Despite being a career 41 percent shooter (factoring in his penchant for driving layups, his perimeter shooting is more like 30 percent), Baron wants to take every last shot. Despite making only 32 percent of his career 3s, he seems convinced every long heave is going in.
Talented and tough, yes. But he’s ashoot-first, me-first point guard who rarely makes those around him better. And what is it with him reportedly telling the Warriors he was not planning to opt out of the final year of his contract, only to bail on them at the 11th hour Monday night?
Was there lingering resentment to being benched by Don Nelson for the entire second half of the next-to-last game of the season against the Phoenix Suns? Was the coach punishing his co-captain for celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas the night before and missing the team charter to Phoenix?
Well, Baron had his cake and then told the Warriors to eat it, spurning the adoring Golden State fan base to take a back seat to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. Sure, we will miss his fire and passion, but with Davis’ chronic knee problems, it was wise for Chris Mullin to hedge on a huge, long-term contract offer.
Flush with cash (the Warriors could be as much as $19 million under the salary cap), look for Nellie’s young team to grow stronger in his absence.
By the way, do you remember what happened to the Warriors after their lone playoff win against Utah last year? They lost the next two games and the series to the Jazz with Davis shooting a combined 11-of-32 from the field.
Rich Walcoff is the sports director at KGO Radio (810 AM) and can be heard weekdays between 5-9 a.m. on the "KGO Morning News." He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.